Friday, March 30, 2007
After discussing the fact that Mexico is essential a narco state governed by drug cartels supported by the military, he suggests that the only solution to the problem is the legalization of the sale of drugs. Making them illegal has turned a health issue into a legal issue, created an enormous burden on the state, and made the cartels rich.
I tend to agree with him. As I have said before, "there is no salvation in law". The Ontario Temperance Act of the 'nineteen teens' helped turn secret Italian socio-political extortion societies into modern organized crime in this Province. Money sent back to the old country helped the development of Crime in Calabria and Sicily.
Drug laws aid and abet organized crime at home and abroad the ensure the creation of narco states run by people with drug money they use to buy off badly paid police, soldiers etc.
Since America is the largest consumer of illegal drugs in the world, American anti-drug laws are especially useful to international organized crime.
If the drugs were made legal, and the regulated and taxed, the prices would remain considerably lower, the tax money could go directly to the health care system to deal with drug abuse, the budgets of police and national security now being focused on fighting organized drug dealers could be refocused, the connection between arms dealers and drug dealers could be dissolved.
Sure problems would still exist, and murky ethical issues would have to be addressed, but not only is what we're doing not working, the only people it benefits are organized criminals. Without their drug profits, their toxic influence on local economies is considerably lessened, which limits the damage they can do elsewhere. Illegal drugs are expensive because they are illegal, make them legal and the margins shrink, leaving more money for the legiti8mate economy: qualities of life for the non-users in the family will improve, especially if drug abuse becomes a health/mental health issue, in which an open an honest policy of concern is made central to our drug policies.
The only people who benefit by attempts to legislate morality are those without any morality.
Rumours abound here about the city's Italians and which of them are mobsters and which aren't. The longer you live here the more rumours you hear, the more facts you hear, the more hypocrisy you sense, the more uneasy the whole mess makes you.
The police know who the gangsters are, and I don't just mean the local police. In fact the local police for the most part consist of recruits who come and go. It's a university town, Guelph's police force is a kind of Police Academy graduate school-practicuum campus. The Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Combined Special Forces Units, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Services all know who the gangsters are, they've been following their activities for decades. However, Canadian rules of evidence are necessarily strict about bringing cases to court.
And so next to nothing happens. Especially now that money-laundering is the favoured activity of Canadian mobsters. The veneer of business respectability and the depth of local rumour and unease over the town's mobsters combine (in this case) to cast a shadow over business in Guelph. Consumers aid and abet criminal organizations in laundering the proceeds of crime every day, making us accessories during the fact.
I already find it hard to buy products from companies that treat third world sweat shop workers like slaves, and so avoid shopping in places like WalMart. Helping businesses that are laundering the proceeds of drug misery money makes me equally uneasy.
The only way I can help is by trying to distinguish rumour from fact, cause from effect, context from events, individuals from communities, secret society members from non-members.
If enough people become aware of the need to do the same, something can be done.
The world is headed for an environmental cataclysm, I don't want to get there and discover that the water and the food and every aspect of our surviving economy is controlled by gangsters, by extortionists and bullies who have friends in high places and friends among the arms dealers and the prostitute makers and the Third world resource sector slave trader, people who will be fully prepared to put me and my loved ones into their 'business plan.'
It's not that gangsters are immoral, it's that they are amoral, they may have a code of behaviour, but whatever it has in common with community standards of what is right and what is wrong arises only from the fact that they have amoral allies in all walks of life.
And what about the ethical Italians whose honesty and integrity is tainted by the existence of gangsters in their midst, in their families. They need community support, we need to give them our business, and stop giving it to their corrupt 'cousins'.
In order to do that we need to separate rumour from fact. And one of those facts is that it is not just Italians who are involved in organized crime.
In a way the truth is the smallest part of the process, the point of the fulcrum on which this whole edifice can be levered off its foundation once there is a community will to do so, a national will to do so.
But this is more like a Truth and Reconciliation process. This is not a witch hunt, this is about redeeming society, not condemning families or individuals.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The following letter is one that I retrieved from the archives of Ontario, and is in fact the witness statement of John Zezare taken by the police and used at Jimmy's trial. The pencil notes on the letter appear to be those of the crown attorney written during the actual trial. In the statement Zezare explicitly states that he saw Jimmy shoot Alex Dutki.
Click on Photo to Enlarge
The last hand written words refer to Constable Greenaway pointing out where Dutki stood in relation to Giovinazzo.
Archives of Ontario Series RG 22 392
Box 172 Giovinnazo, James
Jimmy (Vincenzo) Giovinazzo was hung on John Zezare's sworn testimony, not on my falsification of history 81 years later.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Antonio Silvestro, who was knifed in Sudbury in 1905;
and to Michael Fazzari, murdered on Alice Street in 1912;
to Big John Barr hit over the head with a rock on Essex Street in 1914,
Giorgio Verni, killed by a shotgun in 1915 behind his Alice St. home,
Tony Legato, who took his own life in 1916 on the morning he was to
have been executed,
Domenico Luberto, a former resident of Guelph who was gunned down in Welland in 1916 a day before he was to have married the daughter of Guelph's Joseph Tedesco,
Domenic Paprone, who was shot on the streets of Hamilton in 1919 after having killed a mobster who was an ally of Guelph mob boss Domencio Sciarroni,
Fortunato (Fred) Tedesco, son of Joseph Tedesco who was murdered outside his parents' house on Morris Street in 1919,
Alex Dutki shot on Alice Street in 1919,
Jimmy Giovinazzo executed for Dutki's murder in 1919,
Nunzio Corruzzo, Domenico Sciarroni's driver who was murdered near Welland in 1921, Tony Leili, a Sicilian who was blood kin to Sciarroni, and who was found in ditch near Oakville in 1922;
Mike Lobosco, who was murdered in the front door of his Welland barbershop in
Domenic and Joe Sciarroni, both murdered in 1922,
Welland police constable John Trueman, murdered while investigating Joe Sciarroni's murder that same year,
David Ray, who died of bootlegged alcohol poisoning in the Ward in 1928,
Anthony Cipolla who blew himself up in 1934;
Sam Sorbara, who was found in a culvert outside of Guelph in 1938;
Joe Nasso, who disappeared in 1939 and whose body has never been recovered;
Giovanni Durso, who disappeared in 1944,
Angelo Fonti, who was found in a ditch in Etobicoke in 1947;
Frank Silvestro, who killed himself in Hamilton in 1949;
Charles Cipolla, who died of a brain hemorraghe in the Kingston Pen in 1969
and many others, known and unknown.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
a question that few have regarding your work is why would you want to rehash guelph's mafia history and exploit many family names? why anyone would want to read this book on things that happened over 70 years ago just baffels me. why you would want to publish these things in a book is completly disrespectful to the families of the people mentioned in your book. The things that happened 70 years ago should stay 70 years ago, the families of the people written in the book do not want to have to deal with the backlash that they may face and have to deal with the deaths and shady history of their families. this book is a disgrace to all italians and guelphites, its completely biased, not to mention HALF of your information IS FASLE. if your going to publish a book, get your facts straight. shame on you and mind you own business.
Certainly you raise important questions. The simple answer to those who question the writing of history is of course that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it, and clearly that has been going on in Guelph. I can certainly understand that families are discomfited by the actions of their ancestors, the only problem is, without knowing the history and those who were involved there is no way to know what is going on in the present, or what events mean that occur in the present.
The feud in San Giorgio Morgeto between the Facchineri and the Raso-Albanese has claimed 100 lives since 1963, the Guelph Morgeti cannot be unaffected by that war, and therefore neither can public life in Guelph. At the same time, this is not just about Italians. There are other ethnic organized crime groups at work in Guelph in 2007, and what happened once, is happening again, in different ways, but for similar reasons.
I'm not sure in what way this book is a disgrace to Italians, from my perspective what was dis-graceful - what was without grace - was the way that certain individuals from certain families behaved towards certain other individuals and certain other families. How it is a disgrace to Guelphites in general is even less clear to me. The disgrace to Guelphites is that they refused to tell the story of their community for so long.
If there are FALSE facts in the book I would certainly like to know what they are and what your evidence is that proves your facts to be true.
I actually have no axe to grind in this, I am not anti-Italian, and I refer you to my post on the Italians involved in the Libera project to help assure you that there are a great many Italians who know all too well that historically, their fellow countrymen were their worst enemies.
Mob apologists have a long history of crying racism, and in some case racism is real, but you have to understand as well that the over riding sense of pride that British-Canadians took - and take - was and is in their institutions: they firmly believed that however badly Italians had been treated by the many foreign rulers who had governed them, that British law would actually prove itself superior to all others in its capacity to deliver justice. The fact that Italian Canadians are now among some of the most respected communities in the country proves the case for British-Canadian law. The secret Italian societys may have been semi-legitimate protection rackets defending peasants in the old country and in the old days, but they became nothing but extortion rings victimizing other Italians in Canada.
That's why so many Italian Catholics joined Pope John Paul in his call for an end to the mafias.
As for my sense of shame, I actually have an over-developed sense of shame in general, and felt the only way to avoid it while writing this book was to do as much to honour the dead as I could. This book is dedicated to their memory, to all their memories, the good and the bad, because they were as much victims of their times as they were of their own choices or the choices of others.
As for minding my business, as a citizen of Guelph I listen to the business of Guelph on a daily basis, and since a portion of that business is founded on secrets and murders and lies, then it is the business of all citizens to discover as much of the truth as they can.
So, again, if you have proof that HALF the book is false, what is your evidence, prove it to me and I will print it.
You chose to post your comment anonymously, obviously people would recognize you if you gave your name, and they would be able to develop an opinion of your real purposes for themselves. Presumably that's why you chose to post anonymously. For my part I suspect I know who you are, I even think we've met. I could be wrong.
Your one concern, however, that of a backlash because of the actions of ancestors, I do share. If my book is about nothing else, it is about finding a new way forward. Vendetta and the cycles of revenge breed tragedy for everyone, and that is the lesson of Guelph's mafia history.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Libera, click on the English flag for English language
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Community, in St. Patrick's Ward, Guelph Ontario, 1900-1939, a Mrs. C
Ferraro had a photograph of the village of San Giorgio Morgeto, beneath which
she had made a list of the families who had settled in Guelph. It is that list I use
when I speak of the Morgeti and the San Giorgiosi who moved to Guelph.
Those clans according Mrs. C. Ferraro's are:
Addario Agostino Albanese Alviano Ammendolia Belcastro Bellantoni Anselmini Bombino Cacciatore Capra Cassone Collura Cardillo Consiglio DeMaria Fazzari Furfaro Giovinazzo Carere Consentino Ferraro Cotrone Fonte Leo Luccisano Macri Magnoli Longo Lieto Mammoliti Marchesano Morabito Muscatello Raco Maugeri Monteleone Nasso Pezzano Raso Rao Scarfo Seminara Sorbara Sorrenti Silvestro Simonetta Tedesco Varamo Valerioti
The names are not a complete list of San Giorgiosi and Morgeti who came
to Guelph, Tony Legato for instance, who was executed for a murder
committed in 1915 was from San Giorgio, Domenic Luberto is another
instance, as are the Spataros, the Zezares, the Vernis and the Varone's.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
There is however an intensity that I'm not entirely certain I share, or at least, my own intensity is tempered by the tragedies in the stories I recount in the book.
It could be that journalists in Guelph have for years found themselves frustrated by knowing pieces of the truth about this city but not being able to write about it because all the evidence available to them was anecdotal, rumours with substance but no seeming entry point for an 'objective' story. That frustration may have found an outlet in my book, like an opened door through which the journalists now seem prepared to enter.
And in some ways I can't blame them. I began with a similar emotion, but my emotions got subjugated to spiritual necessities even more than socio-political ones the longer I worried my way into the subject.
In the book I constantly make a distinction between the mobsters from San Giorgio Morgeto - whom I call Morgeti, and the non-mobsters, the majority of the villagers and their Guelph descendants, the Sangiorgiosi.
The spiritual necessity that informed the book and resonated into the tone of the work, is that the two distinctions nonetheless constitute one people. What Northrup Frye through Coleridge explained as the necessity for distingiushing that which cannot be divided. These aren't just stories about crime families, they're stories about families, uncles, brothers, cousins. The book is dedicated to the victims of vendetta. It's for their loved ones in some ways.
But decide for yourself what you think of the editorial, it follows this post below, and the online original can be accessed through a direct link by clicking on that post's title.
We need to remember all the history
(Mar 10, 2007)
Guelph's Jerry Prager may well agitate some local residents with a book he's just released. Good on him.
Prager has dared to revisit in minute detail some of the most sordid tales and times in Guelph's past in his Legends of the Morgeti, Volume One 1900-1922. It's a book described by its publishing house as one that confronts some "uncomfortable" truths about Guelph and delivers on that promise.
Prager's book was officially released this week with a public reading at a downtown Guelph church. The affair sparked animated discussion. Most who attended are connected to family trees that have maintained through oral tradition some of the tales Prager dissects in the book. So vigorous was the discussion about this infamous aspect of Guelph's past Prager subsequently established a blog to continue the forum. It's at morgeti.blogspot.com.
An excerpt of Prager's book appears in today's newspaper as the cover of our Here section. We hope to contribute to the review of Guelph's yesteryear that the book is inspiring.
Many -- but not all -- Guelph residents are aware of the community's mob town reputation. This effort explores the validity and the roots of that reputation. It revives knifings, shootings and other crimes that some would wish left as closed cases. But doing so would be to lose something valuable. This community -- any community -- is a product of its history. And, history books do an injustice when they only celebrate great moments, people and hallowed accomplishments.
If you're unaware or under-aware of the story of how clans of Calabrian mafia arrived here from the Village of San Giorio Moregto and helped establish organized crime in Guelph and elsewhere, consider becoming a student of the subject as Prager has -- or through Prager. This work is the result of three years of digging through decades-old newspaper accounts, obscure genealogical records and other documents.
Prager is seeking to teach and perhaps also to provoke in this effort. We applaud him for trying to do both. A citizenry is richer when it is informed about its roots. Legends hold the potential to enrich us about local heritage -- albeit one several locals might want muted.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Under contemporary rights and freedoms the police must adhere to strict 'rules of evidence', and rightly so, which means that the police are incapable of stopping gangster capitalists. Equally, Royal Commissions which are created to investigate narrowly defined aspects of criminal activity like the construction industry et al, may shed light into a field of crime but they do little else than cause the darkness to retreat elsewhere, while creating problems for ongoing police investigations. I tend to agree with St. Paul that, "There is no salvation in law." The law cannot save society from the sins of its members, least of all from gangsters. All the law can do is to define right and wrong and create penalties for doing wrong.
What this book is designed to show is that a third way is required, one that makes use of generations of police work to support evidential trails that will allow communities to redeem families from criminal societies. This book traces the history of organized crime in Guelph via specific clans because I want to make the case that we need to create a legal definition of a Criminal Family. The designation would enable us to use the more pro-active tools of Family and Civil law, and combine them with the power of the Criminal Court. Public accessibility to court-administered Crime Family databases could be secured in Public and University Libraries, Archives and Museums and be available in hard copy and online.
A Criminal Family designation would combine generations of investigations and convictions with the sweeping power of Royal Commissions to shed light on crime activities in not just Guelph or Canada, but in a system that could extend to Italy itself.
Italy has been begging for action from Canada lawmakers, because gangsters so easily hijack our rights and freedoms, and have turned us into a conduit for the global drug trade. We need a way out of the 'revolutionary/gangster' revenge cycle in which drugs are sold to buy guns to fight battles so that political issues can be addressed in places where democracy has little traction. Those vendetta cycles not only lead to the corruption of the global democracy movement but they ensure the vitality of gangster capitalism.
A Crime Family designation would allow communities to seize the assets of such families and put the seized properties and monies into two trusts. One trust would be designed to ensure the survival of future generations of the families as they attempt to redeem themselves from their pasts. The other trust would be used to restore the integrity of local economies while preventing opportunities for other criminal groups to step into vacuums left by dismantled crime families. Some of that second Trust's money must also go into drug rehab programs, both for users, and for the farmers in various parts of the world who make their hard-scrabble livings growing coca for cocaine, opium for heroin/morphine, marijuana etc.
Appeals processes would be available to ensure that innocent households of any given family can defend their innocence. A moratorium on prosecution, based on the confessions of any elder of any given Crime Family would also be made available. It is not condemnation but redemption we're after here, grace not law. Of course there are always the unrepentant who will not only choose to always live by the sword but to die by it, and for them we cannot pretend that grace or law will have much effect on them.
In recent years Italy has been redeeming itself from its criminal societies by the use of peniti - penitents who, for one reason or another, confess to the various crimes of their clans. Those confessions tend to be made on the basis of personal survival, but just as often, there is an undercurrent of genuine confession involved, rooted as it so often is in the horrific consequences of vendetta, the shedding of the blood of the innocent and guilty alike, often family members. A Criminal Family designation therefor is not designed to crush crime families; it is designed to free them, not without consequences, but responsibly, whenever possible.
It should also be stated for the record that just because a family was involved in criminal activities during the period covered by Volume One (1900-1922) does not mean those families are still involved in organized crime. Vendetta itself has a way of demoralizing a family and that leads them to seek their own redemption.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
I wrote a play once called the Wake of the Asia about the worst marine disaster in Georgian Bay history, 120 people lost their lives (in 1882.) We actually performed the play in a tent alongside the Bay in Collingwood and the run coincided with the date of the tragedy so we invited descendants of the lost to attend a wreath ceremony, at which we read out the names of the 120 people who had died. Their names hadn't been spoken aloud in generations it seemed. There is something about memorializing the forgotten that opens the sacred into the ordinary.
The great difficulty of writing this book was to get the tone right, to make it something other than a True Crime book, to make it about family, to honour the survivors of vendetta, to show respect to the dead whose stories I can only tell as fragments, whether those men were cold blooded killers, or passionate unfortunates or unlucky opportunists.
I talked about how I hoped healing would come to the community by telling the stories but at the end of the evening two Sangiorgiosi asked me about that, about how some they've talked to felt that healing had already come about through forgetting. It's certainly one way to do it, and it's not a way I can condemn, and yet, I guess I believe that redemptive healing requires light to reach into the darkness in order to separate the shadows of human action from the darkness itself. So I suppose I'm talking about spiritual healing rather than just emotional scarring over. I think forgetfulness leads to a certain kind of hardness maybe, whereas spiritual healing is more like being released from prison, like the Orpheus story where he rescues his wife from Hades, only to lose her in the shadow of the rock opening to the outer world because she couldn't separate herself from her past.
To the man who left his scarf, I have it. Contact me via the gmail address above and I'll arrange to get it back to you. To everyone else thanks for coming. And thanks for buying the book.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
How Canada's Most Powerful Mafia Family Runs its Business
Peter Edwards, Toronto, Key Porter Books 1990
Bloodlines: The Rise and Fall of the Mafia's Royal Family
Antonio Nicaso, Lee Lamothe
The Canadian Connection: An Expose of the Mafia in Canada
and its International Ramifications by Jean Pierre Charboneau,
translation James Stewart ,Optimum Publishing 1976
Deadly Silence: Canadian Mafia Murders
Peter Edwards, Antonio Nicaso, Toronto: MacMillan Canada 1993
Encyclopedia Brittanica, Wm. Benton Publisher, 1962
The Enforcer: Johnny Pops Papalia A Life and Death in the Mafia
Adrian Humphreys, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. 1989
King of the Mob: Rocco Perri and the Women Who Ran His Rackets
James Dubro, Robin F. Rowland, Penguin Books 1987
The Inside Story of a Canadian Biker, Hitman and Police Informer
Cecil Kirby, Thomas C. Renner, Toronto: Methuen 1986
Mob Rule: Inside the Canadian Mafia
James Dubro, A Totem Book, MacMillan Canada 1985
Rocco Perri: The Story of Canada's Most Notorious Bootlegger
Antonio Nicaso, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. 2004
Yours in the Struggle: reminiscences of Tim Buck NC Press, Toronto 1977
The Lucky Immigrant: the Public Life of Fortunato Rao
Nichaolas DeMaria Harney & Frank Sturino
Multicultural History Society of Ontario, Toronto 2001
The Mafia in Canada, a Five Part Series
Alan Phillips MacLeans Magazine, Aug. 24 1963 to Mar. 7 1964
The Guelph Mercury on microfilm, 1905-2006
The Toronto Star, Pages of the Past website
The Globe and Mail, Canada's Heritage from 1844, wesbite
Palmers London Times Online
Proquest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times
Senato della Republica Camera dei Deputati (commisiion Parliamentare D'Inchiesta
Sul Fenomneo dell Criminalita Organizzata Docv. XXIII n.8)
http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/ Canadian Intelligence Security Service
http://www.wikipedia.com/ Saint George
http://www.sicilia.idettaglio.it/ Morgantina ruins
http://www.ellisisland.org/ ship manifests
http://www.sgiorgiomorgeto.it/ San Giorgio Morgeto village website
http://www.carabinieri.it/ Italian paramilitary/ Giuseppe Musolino
Archives of Ontario series RG 22 392
It is my contention that the three main Calabrian 'locales' ('ndrinas) at work in Ontario are those from Plati, Siderno, and San Giorgio Morgeto. The Sidernese factions don't seem to have arrived in force until the 1950's. While the Morgeti were here at the turn of 20th century and the Plati immediately after. I mentioned the Raso-Albanese because the Silvestro's of both Hamilton and Guelph were closely related to the Rasos.
Domenic Sciarroni was from Calanna, his wife, Maria Calarco was from San Alessio, both villages a few miles west of the Grand Captain's hometown of San Stefano d'Aspromonte.
My book (Volume One) covers the arrival of the Morgeti in Guelph and ends with the death of Domenic Sciarroni (known as Joe Veroni in Guelph) in 1922. I cover events inside this city, which are placed in the context of events in the province and in Calabria. The death of Fred (Fortunato) Tedesco mentioned in other works on the mafia in Ontario (Dubro and Rowlands, Antonio Nicaso) is gone into in some depth, as are the related murders and attempted murders of more than half dozen other Morgeti and their associates. The Morgeti spread from Guelph to the Niagara frontier, settling in Welland, and moving east of Guelph to Woodbridge and of course to Toronto. I use extensive newspaper sources (the old Globe and Mails, Toronto Stars, and the Guelph Mercury) as well as Ancestry. com; the Ellis Island immigration & transit records, and the Canadian census of 1911.
I think you will find that I've done my home work.
Monday, March 5, 2007
1963 is also the year in which the so-called Code of San Giorgio Morgeto was discovered in the home of the boss of Taura Nova, Giuseppe Mammoliti.
Most of the Calabrians who settled in Guelph, Ontario are Sangiorgiosi; a significant number are Morgeti. Many of the allies of both Domenic Sciarrone (the first Calabrain don of Ontario circa 1911-1922) and the King of the Bottleggers (Rocco Perri - boss from about 1922-1944) were Morgeti. Tony Silvestro, one of the 'three old dons of Ontario' was a Morgeti, as was Domenic Longo, also know as one of the 'three old dons.' (The third was Giacomo Luppino from Hamilton.)
I will be checking into the site regularly.
Thank you for joining me.